Guest Blog Post – Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

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They Do Strange Things in the Bowery

The Bowery, the Bowery!
They say such things,
And they do strange things
On the Bowery! The Bowery!
I’ll never go there anymore!”

The words to the popular song from the 1891 musical A Trip to Chinatown tell you everything you need to know about the Bowery, which is both a street and a neighborhood in Manhattan.  In turn of the century New York City, many neighborhoods had bad reputations, and the Bowery was among the worst. Originally, however, it was actually several miles outside of town. “Bowery” is an Anglicization of the Dutch word bouwerji which means “farm”, as the area contained many large farms in the 17th Century. When the City grew, it spread northward, and the farms gave way to residential lots where elite citizens built mansions. By the mid-1800s, those citizens had moved farther north, and Bowery became the eastern border of the notorious “Five Points” slum where all manner of evil flourished. To make matters worse, the Third Avenue Elevated Train ran above Bowery, turning the street dark even at midday.  The neighborhood housed cheap bars, dance houses, brothels, and flophouses.

So what was a Society debutant doing there?

That’s what Private Investigator Frank Malloy and his new bride, Sarah Brandt, try to find out in Murder in the Bowery when the search for a missing newsboy leads them to the innocent debutant, a ruthless gangster, and a Bowery “guide” who takes rich men on “slumming” tours of the neighborhood. But none of these people is who or what they seem, and Frank and Sarah have to find the truth before a killer strikes again.

************

Former police sergeant turned private detective Frank Malloy and his wife Sarah are caught up in the strange world of a society woman who enjoyed flirting with danger but found death instead…

Frank Malloy’s latest client is well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.

When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. A suspicious Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman Estelle Longacre. Estelle’s risky behavior took a fatal toll but Frank can’t be sure if the company she kept is to blame or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate an underground web of treachery to find answers.

 About the author Edgar and Agatha nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder in the Bowery, is a May 2017 release from Berkley Prime Crime. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog. Find out more at www.victoriathompson.com.  Follow her on Facebook at Victoria.Thompson.Author and on Twitter @gaslightvt.

Book Review – Where the Dead Lie, By C.S. Harris, A Mystery Set in 1813 England

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Where the Dead Lie

A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery

Berkley

Hardcover

April 4, 2017

12th installment of the series

set in 1813 England

I seldom read books of this era, but there was something intriguing about this plot. As disturbing as the topic was, this wasn’t a book I could put down as the description places the reader in every dark and dangerous corner. You can see the tattered clothes on the children, the dirt on their faces, and sense their fear.

Where the Dead Lie opens with a burial. Not the kind you’re invited to. No, this was murder and the burial was planned late at night at an abandoned building to go unnoticed. A gentleman watches the illegal act anticipating his quick escape knowing that the crime will be buried with the corpse. Though a homeless, former soldier seeking shelter in the abandoned shot factory caught them in the act. The magistrate who should be dealing with the case refuses to seek justice for the young, dead pickpocket. Constable Mott Gowan takes on the responsibility feeling the child deserved the truth to be revealed and a better burial.

The children of the streets have no wealth, no history, no protection. They need someone to be their voice. So when the body of a boy buried in the makeshift grave is brought to the attention of Surgeon Paul Gibson he contacts Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin. The two often investigate cases turned down by the authorities.

Sebastian immediately arrives at Paul’s home and witnesses the boy’s tortured body lying on a stone slab. After experiencing disgust and anger, Devlin is determined to find the person responsible for this horrid crime. Through his investigation, he uncovers a web of deviance that caters to the wealthy through prostitution and illegal books. Through his and his wife’s interviews, they learn that the boy is Benji Thatcher and when his mother was transported to Botany Bay, he and his younger sister were left alone. They struggled to stay alive.

Paul and Sebastian must find out who murdered Benji? Have other children met the same ending? And where is Benji’s sister?

This was a dark, disturbing novel and yet a perfect venture into man at his worst. The street youth, the witnesses and criminals were well drawn. I felt like I was watching a movie. I also learned about poverty in this time period. How mothers went to prison for stealing the simplest of things because prostitution was not an acceptable alternative. Then the unthinkable happens and these poor children were left to fend for themselves. They became pickpockets or worse to survive. Their society failed them and abandoned them. To make matters even worse, they are preyed upon.

Only problem was a printing error not caught right away, but I was told it was fixed. I read the e-book instead.

Five street children out of five

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Denise Fleischer

April 30, 2017

 

 

Guest Blog Post: Moses’ Staff: Facts and Fantasy By Kfir Luzzatto

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If you know your Bible, you are familiar with Moses’ staff. It played a big part in the Israelites’ departure from Egypt, as told in the Book of Exodus. The staff embodied the power that God had bestowed upon Moses, and he used it to part the waters for their escape and for pretty much everything else he needed done, like hitting the rock and having water gush out so the Israelites could drink in the desert.

Like with other Biblical relics, countless stories have been told over the centuries about Moses’ staff, and even in modern times. In 2002 the BBC released a stunning headline: “Staff of Moses ‘found’ in Birmingham.” It was followed by a report claiming that “an ancient staff in a British museum may be connected to the Biblical figure of Moses. Coventry writer Graham Phillips believes the staff, on display at Birmingham Museum, belonged to the historical Egyptian official Tuthmosis, whose life had strong parallels with the Moses of the Bible.” According to the author, the staff was found in a tomb in southern Jordan in the 1800s before being bought by a British collector and later acquired by Birmingham Museum.

But of course, there will be others who claim possession of the relic. For instance, Turkey claims that Moses’s staff is on display today at the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul. While I wouldn’t run to Birmingham or to Istanbul to view the relic, these facts inspired the plot of my new thriller, Exodus ’95, in which a race to locate and take possession of Moses’ staff, hidden in a remote location, develops into what a reviewer characterized as “an intriguing blend of action, mystery, and suspense.”

An action thriller is a work of fantasy – or to put it bluntly, it is a pack of lies. Conventional wisdom has it that for a lie to be convincing, it must be based on some truth. Exodus ’95 is anchored in facts, geographically and historically, so when the reader get to the fibs, they have a ring of truth that serves to keep him or her invested in the story and connected to the protagonists, no matter how outlandish their actions.

So, what’s in the book:

Claire, a young graphic designer, learns a secret that her dying New York neighbor has kept for twenty years: the whereabouts of Moses’ Biblical staff.

Claire needs the help of an Israeli engineer and the money of a Russian oligarch to recover the staff before her body betrays her. But first she needs to stay alive in a race with fanatics, who will do anything to keep the staff from coming to light.

Then the LORD said to Moses: Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.

Will Moses’ staff be found at last? I’m afraid that to find out you’ll have to read Exodus ’95.

 

Kfir_LR

Kfir Luzzatto is the author of seven novels, several short stories and two non-fiction books. Kfir was born and raised in Italy, and moved to Israel as a teenager. He acquired the love for the English language from his father, a former U.S. soldier, a voracious reader, and a prolific writer. Kfir has a PhD in chemical engineering and works as a patent attorney. He lives in Omer, Israel, with his full-time partner, Esther, their four children, Michal, Lilach, Tamar, and Yonatan, and the dog Elvis.

Kfir has published extensively in the professional and general press over the years. For almost four years he wrote a weekly “Patents” column in Globes (Israel’s financial newspaper). His most recent nonfiction book, FUN WITH PATENTS—The Irreverent Guide for the Investor, the Entrepreneur and the Inventor, was published in 2016. He is an HWA (Horror Writers Association) and ITW (International Thriller Writers) member.

The author’s website: https://www.kfirluzzatto.com

Guest Blog Post – The Ghost of Cafe Past by Gayle Leeson

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9781101990803I’m not so sure that The Ghost of Café Past is the best title for this post, but it rolls off the tongue a little better than The Ghost of Lunch Counter Past. But please bear with me.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me to Clark’s Drugstore. To me, it was one of the most exciting places ever. (She also took me to the post office where she’d let me turn the tiny knob right and left to the corresponding numbers and then take her mail out of the narrow slot. Grandmother knew all the happening places to take a seven-year-old.)

Clark’s Drugstore was a magical place—part pharmacy, part general store, part diner. It had glossy magazines, greeting cards, candies, toiletries, makeup, pantyhose, over-the-counter and prescription medications. In addition, there was a lunch counter along the wall to the left of the store. Along the counter, there were orange stools where a little girl could sit and spin until she was dizzy. And no one would tell her to stop.

It seemed to me that the same woman always took our order at the lunch counter. I can’t remember her name, but I know she had gray hair—big gray hair. She was warm, friendly, and always smiling. She served up the best cheeseburgers and French fries. I’d get my cheeseburger with mustard, mayonnaise, and pickle, and that flavor combination always takes me back to sitting beside Grandmother in that small-town drugstore that was part of a strip mall on Main Street.

There were some strange characters who also frequented the drugstore. Some seemed harmless. Some not so much. One man would try to touch me when I strayed too far from the safety of Grandmother’s side. I was terrified of that man and can still remember what he looked like. Fortunately, most of the characters who hung out in that Main Street strip mall were harmless. There was the man who walked the streets either whistling or singing, had a friendly nod for everyone, and who poured his coffee into a saucer to let it cool before slurping it up. And there was the guy everyone thought was “a little off” because he walked around all the time holding a transistor radio up to his ear. Looking back, maybe he was just a trail-blazer. How many people do you see walking around these days without an iPod or phone up to their ear?

In Silence of the Jams, the Down South Café exemplifies that small-town feeling. The café is in a rural part of town. There aren’t a lot of businesses nearby. And there are several eccentric characters who patronize the café. The owner/operator, Amy Flowers, tries to incorporate the best of the old with the new. She continues to serve her customers their favorite comfort foods while encouraging them to step beyond the tried and true and to expand their palates.

While there aren’t any café regulars portrayed by the creepy man from my childhood, there are villains. In Silence of the Jams, Amy realizes life isn’t as idyllic as it seems when a man is murdered in her café. Now she must try to determine which of the new people who’ve come into her life are trustworthy and which one is a killer.

 

Guest Blog Post – How Mystical Musings Came To Be By Cass Donovan

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9780425282762Hi. I’m Cass Donovan, owner of Mystical Musings, a small psychic shop on Bay Island. My shop sits in the perfect location. The front door faces the boardwalk, and the back door faces the beach. I love sitting on the back porch and looking out over the bay, watching the boats headed to Long Island, the kids playing on the beach, and tourists flocking to the lighthouse that overlooks it all. It brings back such fond memories from my childhood.

Though I grew up on Bay Island, I left seventeen years ago to go to college and only returned last year after my psychiatric practice and my marriage both failed. But that’s another story.

I opened Mystical Musings last year, but the idea of the shop on the boardwalk actually originated when I was trying to save money for college. When I was in high school, my friends and I used to spend hours sitting on the beach, and what better way to pass the time than people watching. I loved studying the tourists, then make up stories for them, giving them fictional lives based on what I perceived.

I found it easy to determine moods, since most people wear their moods clearly in their expressions, but then I started noticing other things, more subtle tells. The way some would twist their hands together when they were nervous or fold their arms across their chests when they were hiding something. It got to be a game. Sometimes my friends would join in, offering their own insight into the tourist’s lives, swearing they were right when my gut would tell me they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Then, one particularly boring day, a group of us were hanging around making up stories. One of the boys issued a challenge I couldn’t ignore. He dared me to approach a woman and share my story with her. I still laugh remembering the looks on their faces when I shrugged, stood up, brushed myself off and marched down the beach toward her. With only one backward glance, I walked up to her and said, “Excuse me.”

She had kind eyes, but there was a sadness in them that I wanted to understand. When I offered to do a psychic reading for her, she agreed with a good-natured but skeptical smile. As it turned out, I was extremely close on all counts. The sadness in her eyes was from a recent break up, the way she wrapped her arms tightly around herself was a defense mechanism. She didn’t trust people, wanted to keep them out, thanks to her ex-boyfriend’s cheating. I had nailed so much of her story, and was ready to walk away with a smug smile for my friends. But then I realized the sadness still filled her eyes, and I found I wanted to help, wanted to do something to alleviate her suffering.

So I offered her a premonition, a brief glimpse of the future I imagined for her with a man who would treat her like gold. Though she still appeared somewhat skeptical, there was a bit of optimism and hope as well. And I realized how good it felt to use my gift to help someone. I still think about that woman on occasion and wonder if any of my predictions came true. I certainly hope so.

Anyway, much to Chief Langdon’s dismay, I spent the next few summers approaching tourists and offer to do “readings” for them, only charging if I was able to give them an accurate depiction of their lives. In the beginning, I got about half right. By the time I left for college, I was rarely wrong. When I returned to Bay Island, I picked up where I left off, but this time, I opened my own shop, and now the tourists seek me out.

Guest Blog Post – Maple Sugaring and Mud Season—Oh My! It Must be March in New England

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by B.B. Haywood,

author of Town in a Maple Madness

should now be available in stores

What would a big stack of Maine blueberry pancakes be without fresh maple syrup poured over the top? We’re talking real maple syrup, not the type of artificial “pancake syrup” you find in grocery stores. That’s made from flavored corn syrup, and it’s not maple syrup! But what’s the difference between the two, and how is maple syrup made, anyway?

You’ll find out in the pages of Town in a Maple Madness, the eighth book in the Candy Holliday Murder Mystery series. As we once again join the friendly and busy villagers of the coastal community of Cape Willington, Maine, it’s late March, which means it’s maple sugaring season. But it’s also the time of year when snow and ice are starting to melt, which means it’s mud season. Two big events, one sweet, one not so sweet, and they both play a prominent role in our story.

Cape Willington has two “sugar shacks”—one at Crawford’s Berry Farm, owned by Neil Crawford, and the other at Sugar Hill Farm, owned by Hutch and Ginny Milbright. As the story opens, both sugar shacks are in full operation, with their evaporators fired up and boiling sap, releasing sweet-smelling steam. As readers will find out, maple syrup comes from the sap of sugar maple trees, and it’s produced in the northeastern United States and in Canada, where sugar maples grow. Maine is one of the largest producers of maple syrup, and in the fictional village of Cape Willington, maple sugaring is the primary activity in early spring, before the strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkins take over in the summer and fall.

The sap begins to flow in late February, when the daytime temperatures rise above freezing but night-time temperatures fall below freezing. The season can last anywhere from just a few days to several weeks, and it ends when the tree buds begin to open. The length of maple sugaring season differs from year to year, depending on the weather and air temperatures.

The sugar maple trees are tapped with one tap every spring (unless someone is tapping them illegally, which happens occasionally in New England). Traditionally, the sap runs into buckets attached to the trees, but typically today, the taps are connected by plastic tubing that drains into one central container, creating a network of tubing that’s not unlike a giant spider web strung between the trees. It’s not uncommon to drive down a rural dirt lane in New England and see the tubing connected to tree after tree all the way down the road. It’s always an exciting time, because it’s one of the first signs that spring is on the way.

After the syrup is collected, it’s transported to a sugar shack, usually by tractor and cart, where it’s placed into an evaporator and boiled to remove water. It takes, on average, about 43 gallons of raw sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time and effort, but the flavorful result it well worth it! Once boiled, the syrup is graded from light to dark. Light syrup is the mildest, while dark has the strongest flavor.

Of course, maple sugaring season is also mud season, which means getting to those tapped trees, or getting anywhere on a dirt or back road, can be a tricky proposition. Drivers in Maine and New England try to avoid as much as possible those muddy back roads (which are everywhere in rural New England) in the spring, but when they have to drive on them, they drive as fast as possible so as not to get stuck, since the mud can become like quicksand. So beware if you’re driving in Cape Willington in March! Just drive fast, hold on to the steering wheel as tightly as you can, and hope for the best!

As all these natural events are taking place, the townspeople of Cape Willington are preparing for their first annual Maple Madness Weekend. A number of family-fun events are planned, including a Maple Marshmallow Roast in Town Park and a maple scavenger hunt. The villagers are also opening a “pop-up” pancake restaurant, where they’ll serve hot pancakes covered in fresh maple syrup all weekend long. But in the middle of the festivities, disaster strikes, as the body of one of the town’s most well-known residents is found floating in the English River, his hands and feet tied up and a mortal wound in his back.

Who did it? That’s what blueberry farmer Candy Holliday, her father Henry “Doc” Holliday, local strawberry farmer Neil Crawford and his dog Random, and Candy’s best friend Maggie (Tremont) Wolfsburger, along with her new husband, Herr Georg Wolfsburger, and the other villagers have to find out. All the answers will be revealed in Town in a Maple Madness, so be sure to pick up a copy. Your taste buds will thank you!

COOKING TIP

Did you know you can use maple syrup to replace regular sugar in baking recipes? The simple rule is, three quarters’ cup of maple syrup equals one cup of sugar. In Town in a Maple Madness, we have included several recipes with maple syrup as an ingredient, including Black Forest Bakery Chocolate Maple Brownies, Maple Banana Bread, Maple-glazed Carrots, and Maple Drop Cookies. Enjoy!

Town in a Maple Madness was published on April 4, 2017, by Berkeley Prime Crime, and available in both print and as an eBook. Other titles in the New York Times bestselling series include Town in a Cinnamon Toast (Book 7), Town in a Sweet Pickle (Book 6), Town in a Strawberry Swirl (Book 5), Town in a Pumpkin Bash (Book 4), Town in a Wild Moose Chase (Book 3), Town in a Lobster Stew (Book 2), and Town in a Blueberry Jam (Book 1). Large print editions of the books and an audiobook of Town in a Blueberry Jam are also available. For more information on the series, visit http://www.hollidaysblueberryacres.com.

 

 

Guest Blog Post – Is it a matter of coincidence? By Linda Reilly

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9780425274156A funny thing happened on the way to the publisher . . .

There are so many components that go into writing a mystery. Fun characters, sneaky red herrings, a plethora of guilty-looking suspects . . .  all of these have to be dumped together, shaken up, and poured out into a cohesive story.

When I was writing the initial draft of A FRYING SHAME, I needed to come up with a street name. The street itself wasn’t important—simply a quick reference by the police detective as to why she was late for her meeting with Talia Marby, my main character.

Normally I’d stare out the window to dream up a name, or I’d think of a street name from my childhood. I still can’t recall how I came up with “Oriole Road” that day, but it found its way into the story.

A few months after I turned in the manuscript to my publisher, my husband broke his hip. During the early stages of his post-surgery rehab, we decided the time was right for us to move to a place where he’d no longer have to climb stairs. I found a promising apartment complex nearby, and decided to check it out. A newly renovated unit had just become available, with full bath and master bedroom on the ground level. It was perfect! Even more delightful was that the upstairs bedroom would make the ideal writing lair for me.

We took the apartment. As soon as my husband was well enough to go home after weeks of physical therapy, we moved in. The address of our wonderful new apartment? Oriole Court. But the street name didn’t even ring a bell — not until the publisher sent me the edits for A Frying Shame. I was stunned to realize I’d named a random street Oriole Road months before we’d even thought about moving! (insert Twilight Zone music here)

I’ll bet you’re thinking I’d driven past that street before, and that somehow the name got stuck in my sub-conscious. Nope. Oriole Court is an internal street within the apartment community. I couldn’t have seen it from the main drag unless I’d driven into the complex. And I hadn’t.

I’ve decided that the universe was whispering in my ear the day I made up that street name. The hubby and I are very happy in our Oriole Court apartment, just as Talia Marby, the fry cook in the Deep Fried mysteries, is loving her new digs in Wrensdale, Massachusetts. Living in her nana’s bungalow, she’s been having a blast transforming the old fish and chips shop into a deep-fried eatery.

But it’s not without its challenges. Wherever Talia goes, murder seems to pop into the picture. If you’re in the Berkshires, stop by Fry Me a Sliver and enjoy a deep-fried treat. The ambiance is cozy, the AC is pumping out chilled air, and the deep fryer is sizzling. And be sure to eavesdrop on the local gossip . . . you can bet it’ll be all about murder.

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Guest Blog Post – Jenn McKinlay Explains Where Her Characters Come From

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9780399583810Where do your characters come from? Are they really you?

I get this question a lot. I mean a lot. Here’s the short answer – No, they aren’t me. I mean, I don’t think they’re me. Maybe just parts of me? When I step back and look at the characters in the cupcake bakery mystery series, I see glimmers of myself in all of them. So, I suppose it’s sort of like your children, you know, when you don’t see yourself in them but people keep telling you that the toddler — usually, when he’s screaming his head off — looks just like you. Um…thanks?

Melanie Cooper the chief baker of Fairy Tale Cupcakes is tall, okay, that’s me, blond, nope, not me, and very self-conscious, ha, totally not me. Her partner in baked goods, Angie DeLaura, is short, nope, not me, Italian, sadly, not me, and has a wicked temper as is evidenced if you mess with the people she cares about, okay, there I am! And then there’s Tate Harper, their male counterpart. Tate is brilliant in business, laughably no, not me. He’s level-headed and reasonable, okay, sometimes I can pull that off with three days warning and lots of practice. And he’s a dude, nope, not me.

Moving on to the entourage of side characters in the cupcake bakery series, there’s octogenarian Marty, who is a cranky curmudgeon. I am working my way there in another forty years or so. Marty is my hero! And there’s Oz, a young Hispanic skater dude and wannabe chef. We do share a love of the Ramones, skateboards, and baked goods, so while Oz is not me, he clearly is my people.

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The bad people and the victims in my books are usually loosely based on people I do not like. They may be the jerk who cheated on my friend, the woman who slept through the green arrow when I was in a hurry, the boss I did not enjoy working for back when I had a real job, or the news story that caught my attention about a reprehensible human who was cruel to an animal who I desperately want to slap until my arm gives out…ahem. So, that’s the birth place of the bad people.

And lastly, how do I come up with what my characters look like? Magazines. Mel and Angie in particular came off the cover of Prevention Magazine back when I was working as a librarian at the Scottsdale Hospital and cobbling together the very first proposal for Sprinkle with Murder. I was doing some reference work for a doctor on bone spurs and my mind wandered — it happens — and I started thinking about what those two cupcake bakers would look like when I glanced down at Prevention Magazine and there they were on the cover. Yes, sometimes it is just that easy.

So, that’s the long answer to the question of whether my characters are me. I guess I have to change my original answer. In a way, they are all me but they are also all of the people in my life, good and bad. The shenanigans my people get up to are frequently turned into something the characters in the books would do. And sometimes when I meet a particularly interesting person, I take their whole backstory and use it for a character or two or three. I believe the moral of this tale is be careful what you say and do around a writer because you just might find yourself in a book. Pro tip: You don’t want to be the dead guy.

And now, here’s a brief description of the next cupcake bakery mystery Caramel Crush so you see what the crazy crew is up to this time. Who knows? You may see someone you know it there!

 

When a breakup via cupcake threatens to crumble their friend’s life for good, Mel and Angie race to solve the murder as this New York Times bestselling series continues…

Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as bridezilla Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.

When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…

Thanks for letting me visit! Happy Reading!

Jenn

 

Book Review -Gone Without A Trace

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Gone Without A Trace

By Mary Torjussen

Berkley

April 2017

Cover Art by TK

In Mary Torjussen’s thriller “Gone Without A Trace,” Hannah feels confident that her training course in Oxford will lead to a promotion. She’s currently a senior manager for a sizable accounting firm. While it may be too early to celebrate, she can’t wait to tell her boyfriend Matt the news.

After a 200-mile drive back to her home in northwest England, she is stunned to find not a single possession of his in the home they shared. There is no “I’m leaving you” note. There was no phone call detailing the reasons why he wanted to leave her. Nothing. The only thing she can do is find him. Find out if he had another life elsewhere. This is where her obsession evolves. She becomes hyperaware of every little clue and they are barely visible that even the reader begins to search the rooms with her. She knows a person can not simply disappear. Her obsession begins to alter her appearance, her ability to focus at work, take care of her home, and her health.

There are only a few people she dares tell what she’s experiencing: her co-worker, Sam, her friend Katie and former lover, James, who is Katie’s boyfriend. Their texts and phone calls make her feel like she’s going crazy. That she should simply accept what happened and move on with her life. But she can’t and everything she learns merely pushes her closer and closer to the edge.

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE is a psychological thriller that flows so well from chapter to chapter that you are compelled to read more. I found that you are trapped by Hannah’s obsession. It drags you so completely into her POV.  When things begin to take an intentional path. You begin to wonder who is after her and why. I was caught off guard by the “who” and shook my head at the end. Don’t people learn their lesson? At the heart of it, that’s the part that scares you.

five post-it notes out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

first posted – February 25, 2017

Book Review – Pekoe Most Poison, A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs

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Book Review –  Pekoe Most Poison

A Tea Shop Mystery #18

By Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime

Hardcover

311 pages

March 7, 2017

Life for Theodosia Browning is never boring. In this new Tea Shop Mystery, Theo and Drayton, her knowledgeable tea sommelier and dear friend, are invited to attend an unusual tea at Calhoun Mansion. The theme dates back to the beginning of World War II when war workers came to the navy shipyard in Charleston County, North Carolina, to build and repair shops. The increased population led to poor sanitation and more rats. Charleston found an effective means of removing them. Aiding in the cause, ladies’ groups held “rat teas” to share the method with other cities.

This unusual revisited tea is at the heart of the mystery. Doreen Briggs, the president of the Ladies Opera Auxiliary, hosts a rat tea. No sooner does the it start, when a series of unfortunate situations lead not only to the demise of the event, but Doreen’s husband, as well. Her husband, Beau Briggs, owned apartment buildings in North Carolina and was a business partner of the new Gilded Magnolia Spa.

After questioning the guests, Detective Riley ends the party. Shortly after, Drayton mentions to Theo that Doreen requested that she conduct a personal investigation to ensure a donation is given to the Heritage Society. Drayton is very involved with the society and Theo has been successful, in the past, being an amateur sleuth. Yes, Doreen is slightly manipulative and it would appear it’s because she has so much tied into bad investments her husband made with her money. Theo’s investigation begins and will take a big mouse trap to catch the guilty party.

PEKOE MOST POISON has a strange beginning this time around for a Tea Shop Mystery: a catering crew dressed with rat heads, but that’s what I love about the series. You can bet it will start with a big society party and jump right into a murder. This one had a lot of red herrings, which I prefer to call intentional twists on the path to the truth. I know this is fiction, but I’m thinking real world situation, I would think Doreen would know the importance of protecting her money from her husband’s not-so-perfect track record of business deals. So that threw me off a bit. Her financial planner should have requested her signature on all documents and filled her in to what was happening. Fire the man if he didn’t. Doreen was also really pushy when it came to getting Theo to investigate. A lawyer should have assisted her in getting back funds, not Theo. But I loved Theo’s courage and intuitive nature and that she and Drayton seem to make a great team. I like the fact that Drayton is an older gentleman who knows about tea blends, history and serving. As for the killer, I was a little suspicious of the individual, but didn’t expect the ending. She fooled me again. Liked this book and can’t wait to read the next.

Four rat traps out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

April 2, 2017